On the face of it, it sounds awesome. You want to share some holiday cheer with others, and maybe even bless a woman you have never met with a Christmas surprise. It all starts out with an innocent enough post on social media like this:

Carole MacDonald Brown via Facebook

Sounds pretty cool right? After all, who doesn't love getting surprises in the mail? The good surprises, not the credit card bill you didn't realize was so high... Anyway, surprise, this is a SCAM.

This is a pyramid scheme, which has been making the rounds for a few years. Not only is it a scam, it is also illegal. The United State Postal Inspection Service breaks it down very well in this post from 2015:

The BBB (Better Business Bureau) has also spoken out about this scam, saying it is illegal and they have the following tips to consider:

The next time someone promises a bounty of gifts or cash by mail, email, or social media, BBB recommends the following:

  • Ignore it! Keep in mind that pyramid schemes are international. Chain letters involving money or valuable items and promise big returns are illegal. Stop and ask, is it worth breaking the law? Report it instead to Canadian agencies or to the U.S. Postal inspection Services.

  • Report social media posts. If you receive an invitation to join a pyramid scheme on social media, report it. You can report these Facebook posts by clicking in the upper righthand corner and selecting “Report post” or “report photo.”

  • Never give your personal information to strangers. This will open you up to identity theft and other scams.

  • Be wary of false claims. Some pyramid schemes try to win your confidence by claiming they’re legal and endorsed by the government. These imposter schemes are false as the government will never endorse illegal activity. No matter what they claim, pyramid schemes will not make you rich. You will receive little to no money back on your “investment” or gift exchange.

Remember, that you are sharing your personal information with virtual strangers, which will not get you gifts, and could invite a lot of trouble down the road. If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.

I am all for uplifting women, and working together, so if you are of a mind to buy a gift, consider buying a gift for a woman in need. There are several non-profits in the area who could use an extra Christmas blessing if you will. Get your group of sisters, by blood, marriage, and choice, together and make it a group effort. Spend time buying gifts for a women's shelter, the Crisis Resource Center, area church groups, you see where I am going with this. I fully believe that "it is better to give than to receive" and would love to get together with my sisters and do this kind of "Secret Santa."

Sources: CBSNews.com, Better Business Bureau, US Postal Inspection Serviced Facebook Page